Since the last issue of my enews, we celebrated Teacher Appreciation Week. I think when we are in school, we often take for granted just how much teachers impact our lives. Just as our family, friends and community shape us, so do our teachers. It is why I am proud this year to have supported a budget that gave teachers a 5% raise. I would argue that this is still not near what our public school teachers deserve, but it is my hope that in future legislative sessions that we can improve salaries for teachers in the Commonwealth.
I also wanted to share that recently, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) launched #VirginiaIsForLearners, its newest initiative aimed at preparing students with practical skills to succeed in the 21st Century. The new website, virginiaisforlearners.virginia.gov/, will serve to engage parents and educators in the Commonwealth’s efforts. For more information regarding the initiative, check out the video on the website.
CIVIC Leadership Institute
I so enjoyed the CIVIC Leadership Institute’s Founders Luncheon in Hampton Roads last week. I was honored to join this group of esteemed civic leaders, entrepreneurs and philanthropists to celebrate the founding members of CIVIC as well as pay tribute to CIVIC’s incredible President and CEO, Cathy Lewis.
If you live in Hampton Roads, are a young professional and are interested in getting involved in this program. Click here.
Tribute to NoVA Labor Dinner
It was great to be at the Tribute to Nova Labor Dinner last weekend with so many friends, activists and colleagues. Thanks to Virginia Diamond and Cindy Kirby for organizing another wonderful evening celebrating working Virginians. Congratulations to all of the honorees at the event. The Labor Movement brought about reforms that are commonplace now, like a five-day work week allowing for a weekend, the standard of 40 hours worked in one week and prohibitions on child labor, just to name a few.
Frost Middle School
I loved visiting students at Frost Middle School in the 41st District last week when they displayed their impressive artwork after working with professional artist Suzy Scollon during ArtsFairfax’s Artist Residency program. This program offered students an opportunity to engage in a unique and innovative learning experience by connecting visual art and creative writing, as well as offering students the opportunity to use ceramic projects for storytelling in “Creating Connections in Clay.” They worked in pairs to share transformative personal stories, conducted interviews to deepen understanding and then retold and wrote their partner’s story in first person. Students expressed aspects of the stories by carving related imagery or symbols in narrative ceramic relief tiles. I am proud to serve on the ArtsFairfax Board and I am pleased to be a strong supporter of the arts.
Student Shark Tank
I was pleased to join the impressive young finalists from the Fairfax County Public Schools Student Shark Tank competition. Students worked for months to design innovative, life-improving technology for older adults and individuals with disabilities. Congratulations to the incredible finalists, and great work to all of those who competed!
Health Insurance Reform Commission Meeting
Two weeks ago, I returned to Richmond for a meeting of the Health Insurance Reform Commission (HIRC). We received an update on the Commonwealth’s insurance marketplace from Bureau of Insurance Deputy Commissioner Julie S. Blauvelt and developed our workplan for the rest of the year. Sitting on HIRC helps me improve my understanding of complicated health insurance regulation, which is of great importance to the 41st District and the Commonwealth as a whole. You can read a summary of the Commission’s meeting by clicking here.
Spotlight on an amazing advocate
Check out this article about impressive young man, Conner Cummings. Conner and his incredible mother, Sharon Cummings, are impressive advocates for individuals with different abilities and their families. In 2015, they advocated for legislation similar to child support laws, but applied to adults with different abilities. I met them in Richmond several years ago as they advocated in support of what became “Connor’s Law”. The law, sponsored by then Senator (now Congresswoman) Jennifer Wexton provides that a court may order child support for any child over the age of 18 who is severely and permanently mentally or physically disabled if such disability existed prior to the child’s reaching the age of 18 or the age of 19 if the child was a full-time high school student, not self-supporting, and was living in the home of the parent seeking child support.
I am grateful for the opportunity to become good friends with both Sharon and Conner in our combined quest to support all people equally as we recognize and fully value every person’s individuality and uniqueness.
Our Amazing Schools
Congratulations to our 41st District High Schools! All four (Wilbert Tucker Woodson High School, West Springfield High School, Robinson Secondary School, and Lake Braddock Secondary School) were ranked in the top 20 of U.S. News’ top Virginia High Schools. This is a testament to the impressive Fairfax County Public Schools leadership, teachers, faculty and students that comprise the schools of the 41st! Check out the article here.
Robinson Secondary School in the VHSL Film Festival!
Congratulations to the student filmmakers from Robinson Secondary School whose films were named as official selections in the 2019 VHSL Film Festival! The three films will be screened at the June 1st festival in Charlottesville. Follow the link for more information on the selected films and how to attend.
All Metro stations south of Reagan National Airport on the Blue and Yellow Lines (including Franconia-Springfield) will be closed from May 25th to September 8th for platform reconstruction. During this time, free parking and shuttle buses will be made available to riders. For those whose summer commute is affected, here is a guide on alternative options. As always, don’t forget that there are two VRE stations that will take you to the Crystal City and Union Station right here in the 41st District. If you haven’t traveled on VRE before, you can always use Rolling Road Station or Burke Station for your commute into DC. Click here to see the schedule.